This hasn't been beta read and I shall probably change it later but I just wanted to post this now.
The water was cold as they floated there in the bay.
"Sorry. If you can't do this, tell me. I'll swim as far as I can. I'd rather not be alone, mate."
"Please, Miles, do this."
James could see Miles having to make the reluctant, heart-breaking choice of having to let his friend go.
A determination came over Miles, his reluctant expression disappearing and he nodded at James. He hadn't been there for his best friend while he had had to come to accept the fact that he was not going to live as long as he'd hoped and he'd be damned if he was going to leave him to die alone out here.
A calmness settled over the water surrounding them as James looked up, gazing into a sky that I would never again see in this way. He smiled, his face calm and peaceful as he watched the birds swoop and dive through the air, one breaking off from the rest and disappearing into the cloudy sky.
Struggling to breathe, he gulped in a last few gasps of air before sinking beneath the surface. The clear sea water rushed into his mouth and nose, filling James' lungs with the burning pain that the salt created as he sank beneath the waves. Moments later Miles joined him, his only remaining companion to join him on his final journey, even though he was unable to travel on with him. As the water forces the air out James' body began to tremble and judder as his survival instincts tried to save him, scrabbling at Miles shirt in a panic. But Miles just held him, keeping them both beneath the water, each gazing into the other's eyes, determined to keep eye contact until the end. Soon enough all the air that filled his lungs had bubbled away, his body shook one final time before stilling, his heart stuttered and stopped and everything went black.
It was silent, all was calm, peaceful. Was this death? It must be. The pain, the never ending nagging pain that he had felt had gone, disappeared. It was as if he had had a great weight removed, no longer anchoring him down, leaving him to float weightlessly. It was blissful, a wonderful feeling.
Opening eyes that he had not realized were closed, he found himself still under the water in Barafundle Bay. The waves continued to roll, gently rocking him. Before him in the clear water was a woman, a teenager really. Long, pitch black hair framed a face that could be described as be of all ethnic origins and yet none at the same time and had a paper white complexion with some sort of tattoo at the corner of one of her eyes. She was dressed all in black, clothes consisting of a tank top and skinny jeans. A silver ankh hung around her neck and heavy Gothic combat boots clad her feet.
Her cold, pale hand cupped his face "James, you brave, brave man. You have come to me of your own will."
"Who are you?"
She smiled kindly at him, "I think you already know the answer to that."
He nodded slowly. "You're Death, aren't you?"
Death grinned widely. "That's me."
"Well, you certainly aren't what I expected."
Laughter burst from her, until suddenly her expression became subdued.
"I am sorry that you had to end it this way, I do not have control over what happens during your life. That is my brother's area of expertise."
James was silent, looking at his surroundings.
"Where's my body?"
"Your friend has taken it, he's swimming back to shore right now."
His heartstrings pulled at him, realizing just how much he had left them to do for him. There was one last thing he'd like to do…
"Could I say goodbye?"
"They won't be able to hear you… but yes."
A grateful smile crossed his face. "Thank you."
She held out her hand. "Shall we?"
He grasped her hand and they rose up out of the water, walking across the surface towards the shore. Miles had already reached the beach and they watched as Davy and Bill dragged James' dead body out of the water and onto the soft sand. Miles was clearly broken and grieving, sitting in the shallow water until Davy managed to coax him back onto the beach, sitting him down next to Bill, who was cradling the body in his lap.
Reaching the group, James stopped, Death continuing to walk further up the beach to give him the privacy he needed.
"So…. I raise a morphine toast to you all."
Smiling softly, he placed a hand on Bills wet curls.
"And if you should happen to remember that it's the anniversary of my birth, remember that you were loved by me,"
Walking over, he hugged Davy. Even though Davy couldn't feel or hear him, he hoped he understood.
Stepping away, he faced Miles,
"And that you made my life a happy one. And there's no tragedy in that."
And with that he turned and walked away, unbeknownst to him the group of friends shivered, suddenly feeling that guilty, grieving feeling ease slightly, as if a cold breeze had blown some of it away.
Reaching Death, James took her proffered hand gratefully.
She gave him a reassuring smile.
"Time to let you soar."
And with that, the sound of mighty beating wings rendered the air.